The Life Cycles of a (Former) Athlete

Every year, my kids watch almost every day of the Tour de France. They know the names of the top cyclists, they understand the “stages,” they keep visuals in their heads of the route the bikers take through France.

Just like all other avid cyclists, they know Lance Armstrong.

I’m not surprised that Lance Armstrong was accused of dope. But like Martin Schoeller, I am surprised at how he has now responded to the accusation:

“Yes, quitting lasts forever. And he did not even have the decency to admit his guilt. Oddly, two of my colleagues—both of whom had ridiculed me mercilessly for supporting Lance—wrote to me today to say that they actually felt sorry for the guy.

I do not. Lance Armstrong stood for something. He was a man who, despite the hatred, the envy, and the odds, would never quit, would never concede. He was the great American—a man of principle who also won. Now, I am afraid, he is nothing.”

True greatness is so hard to come by. It’s such a shame when it’s lost.


7 thoughts on “The Life Cycles of a (Former) Athlete

  1. Anjali, I have to agree with you. It’s a shame that anyone with such potential would risk everything in order to attain success – especially when there are so many who strive for just that through their own hard work and efforts and without resorting to such measures. That fact is what keeps me from feeling sorry for those who consciously choose the ‘shortcuts’ …. It’s very sad.

  2. I hadn’t even thought about that – the closure it would have given others if he just admitted his guilt vs leaving it open.

  3. I’ve been really surprised by how many people are so smug and quick to such a harsh judgement. I urge you to read the criticism of USADA by those in the cycling world. They were on a witch-hunt to take down Lance. I’m not justifying his actions (I think that they are all one step ahead of the testing, Lance included.) – but the fact remains he had over 500 drug tests and *not one* of them ever came back positive while he was racing. Read Jonathon Vaughters op-ed in the times a few weeks ago. Read Sally Jenkins piece in the Washington Post on Saturday. Read this: My personal opinion is that he stopped the fight because George was going to be forced to testify – and he wasn’t willing to ruin that friendship. Of course, I support the fight against doping. But Travis Tygart clearly has a personal vendetta against Lance – do we really need to be spending this much time/energy on urine samples that were taken *13* years ago?!!? USADA obviously thinks so. I’m not so sure. (And If US NFL players had to undergo even 1/10th the testing that cyclists go through – i suspect 99% of them would fail.)

  4. Kristen,
    These are all excellent points and I really appreciate hearing your perspective. I do think, though, that a person who survived a near-fatal fight against cancer and won the Tour seven times could have fought this to the end. I can’t imagine that saving a friendship would have been worth more to him than saving his legacy for his children.
    If, in this case, it is a witch hunt, he should have fought it. If anyone has the strength to, it is Lance.

  5. I am no fan of Lance (my husband raced and worked in the cycling industry for many, many years.) But there is no way he could have won this witch hunt. He would have still lost everything ….and taken half of cycling down with him. Look what happened to Contador! It would be the same thing, all over again. Only worse. Why did USADA offer 10 scott-free plea-bargins to the others? Lance is calling their bluff. He really has no choice, in my opinion. So the public outrage has been a mystery to me.

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